China's second-largest freshwater lake dips to record low

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CHANGSHA, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The water level of Dongting, China's second-largest freshwater lake in central China's Hunan Province, dropped to the lowest level ever recorded in the same period, local authorities said Wednesday.

The water level at the lake's landmark Chenglingji hydrological station receded to 19.89 meters at 8 a.m. Wednesday, 7.56 meters lower than the average for the same period in previous years, according to the provincial water resources department.

The figure marks the lowest water level in the same period since the station was built in 1904.

Due to hot weather and low precipitation, the inflow of upstream water to the lake over the past 30 days is around 77 percent less than the average for the same period in previous years, contributing to a sustained drop in the lake's water level, the department noted.

Monitoring data from hydrology and meteorological departments shows that the cumulative precipitation in Hunan Province since July 8 is 81 mm, 73.9 percent less than the average precipitation of the same period in previous years.

The number is the lowest in the same period since the local meteorological data were available.

Over the past 30 days, the cumulative precipitation of Hunan was 10.9 mm, 89 percent less than the average for the same period in previous years.

The provincial hydrological department predicts that most parts of Hunan will continue to experience no significant rainfall and that the water level of Dongting Lake will continue to drop. ■

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